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ROBTG4

Nomsy

  • Filled Under: Entrepreneurship, Web Development

Nomsy is the Pinterest of food content discovery, empowering users with dietary restrictions to find the blogs, videos, recipes, topics, and restaurants relevant to their diet. The venture is my latest and greatest company, using all of the experience I've learned from my mistakes in previous ventures, and taking that into the unknown when it comes to courting investors and changing peoples' lives. We're working toward innovating content e-commerce, enabling users to buy the content their engaging with - whether it is in posted recipes, blogs, or videos.

However, in the beginning, Nomsy started as Medío - a health tracking app.

Medío - The Health Tracking App

Medío was an auto-health-tracking application that monitored nutrition intake and promoted better diet control by revealing better food options around the user. I founded the idea after the death of my grandmother, due to a voracious combination of final stage cancer and diabetes, in hopes to further empower people to effectively and passively manage their health.

So how did I first build upon this idea?

 

  • Summarize the idea in a proposal
  • Developing an initial problem statement
  • Hypothesizing about who the target audience is
  • Delving into obsessive customer discovery

 

Medío's problem statement was "Keeping track of your health is difficult, even though your diet is an essential part of living a healthy life." Using calorie-counting app's is too laborious, because it requires users to constantly put in the details every single meal.

Medío's hypothesized market was fitness-oriented, health conscious, and American women between the ages of 25-55 years old, particularly those who stopped using MyFitnessPal.

Medío's user discovery began with surveying a more general audience to determine the true problem around health tracking/healthy food discovery - we did NOT mention our solution to survey participatns. In total, we surveyed 141 participants and got some of the following results:

As we developed our idea further, seemingly validating the need for a more automated, passively active tracking application in the market, we delved into outlining our idea in a business plan.

We first:

Learning how to pivot given our continuous customer discovery, market analysis, and competitor analysis was vital for Nomsy's (then Medio) growth. The idea began to evolve when we decided:

  • There are way too many competitors in the diet tracking space
  • Diet Tracking has been defined on a culturally stubborn and false metric (calories)
  • Tracking alone isn't a huge pain point for adoption

Due to the latter, it was back to more customer discovery to truly uncover the BIGGEST pain point. This next study involved over 1000 participants. Within this sample, we found a sub-population of participants that did have a great amount of trouble finding healthy and safe food options - those with health related dietary restrictions.

And so, our team pivoted to attend to the mobile dietary restrictive market for those with food allergies. Competition in this market was virtually non-existent and Medío's new purpose became the following:

"Medío attends to the problem of finding, accessing, and knowing about nearby, safe to eat foods by empowering users to discovery diet-specific food offerings wherever they go."

The application became a restaurant-meal discovery app tailored toward the user's dietary restrictions and, of course, it was food delivery enabled..????

When we finally started wire-framing, and we began with this:

Going further, we decided to develop a value add chart to clearly and concisely map the who, what, and how of our venture, given the recent pivot and came up with something like this:

Yet again, we were met with the technical difficulty of using social data and available API restaurant data to provide users with details on each meal - given that the cross-contaminant factors that can spoil a meal are usually influenced by those who prepare it, or the environment that the meal is in.

For this reason, we needed to pivot once more and revise the value that Medío could provide while still solving the problem of our target user base. We asked ourselves the following:

 

  • What restaurant/food data is already available to us?
  • What social data can we use in interesting & insightful ways to reach our ends?
  • How do we maintain app "stickiness"?

 

It is at this impasse that our team pivoted to what is now called Nomsy, a web and mobile application that empowers people to explore recipes, blogs, topics, and restaurants filtered toward their dietary preferences.

We developed the first prototype by cross-referencing Instagram post data and Foursqaure data to determine where people were hashtagging certain diet-relevant hashtags, and if those places were actually restaurants.

To model the prototype, we began with yet another wireframe - taking into consideration our new insights from our user discovery research.

It was at this point our team was accepted into a Global Accelerator Network Accelerator, Coolhouse Labs, to further our vision. It is here we we really dug into which features provided the most value to target users AND prospective clients as we iterated through five versions of our product during a 12 week period.

Our team was exposed to venture capitalists, various strategies to experiment and validate features and business models, and the grind needed to raise $85,0000.00 and turn our idea to help others into a $1.4MM post-money valuation startup. Here's a look at what we were up to:

After determining that we needed to build an intuitive web platform for the following user problems:

 

  • Finding diet relevant content in one place
  • Knowing where to buy safe food products once they've found the content they're looking for

 

We attended to these core issues of the food allergy target market by developing two main core features:

 

  • Explore - diet based restaurant and grocer discovery
  • Discover - diet based content discovery for blogs, topics, videos, and recipes

 

In addition, we developed solid marketing targeted toward audiences that experienced these two problems, including a team-shot introduction video to more easily visualize the concept to potential users.

Our team took initiatives to grow our alpha and beta user base by launching cooperative campaigns with the Celiac Disease Foundation and the End Allergies Together organization as well

Solving this problem came in many user interfaces - here's example of one of our five iterations

And finally we had our demo day on the eve of our 4th iteration release..

But we weren't happy with the design that went into the fourth iteration. We had the technology but we didn't have the fluid user experience.

We then worked hard months after graduating the accelerator (while finishing our undergraduate degrees at the University of Michigan).

The result was a graceful solution using these core features in a final, clickable mobile and web wireframe - and after 6 months of re-development, we developed what Nomsy is today:

Today, we are working towards individualizing the food product and content discovery experience for those with any dietary preference, develop the future of content-based e-commerce, and ultimately merge the diet-restricted market and the on-demand food economy.